There is a growing list of people - in the interest of brevity we can refer to them as blue ticks as you’ll inevitably know what I mean - who I’m finding myself unfollowing on Twitter owing to their ridiculous views. In part, this goes back to last year when I was involved in a spat with an ex sportsman and incurred the wrath of his army of sycophantic followers. Since then, my detector systems have been on high alert and in the interest of maintaining my sanity, not to mention avoiding an inevitable war of words I more often than not choose to mute rather than engage.
Of course, the broader, more curious question, is why are the overwhelming majority of “celebrities” inclined to broadcast views that can be categorised as being leftist, authoritarian, woke, and generally promoting of their virtue at every given opportunity? The origins of this go back to the birth of the concept of celebrity back in the late nineties. Up to that point, anyone famous had (broadly speaking) earned their reputation by succeeding in a particular field. Whether sportspeople, newsreaders, musicians, games show hosts, actors or authors, they were famous for something and we recognised them within this context. Of course, this was pre-internet and social media which meant that, aside from the odd lifestyle magazine interview, autobiography or talk show interview, their private lives (including personal views) were just that - private. Now it’s true that there were some whose political views were known (Richard Burton was open about his socialist views back in the seventies) but they tended to be the exceptions and beyond this the detail remained relatively discrete. All this changed when Tony Blair was handed the keys to No. 10 and immediately dished out invitations to a host of left-leaning (note the clever tactical use of the word “leaning” to distance from the hard left) Brit Pack actors and pop stars to invoke a sense of his having his finger on the zeitgeist. From that moment onwards, famous people were first and foremost famous and we could therefore badge them as celebrities. It didn’t matter whether they had earned the badge of respect via their profession because they had essentially made it into the public eye and could legitimately have free reign to appear on any medium at any point without question.
To solidify this new movement, extra foot soldiers were recruited via the medium of reality TV shows. Here, a new legion of celebrities were given their badge of endorsement simply by appearing on one of these programs and contributing to some cheap moment of outrage or “shock” in order to join the Beckhams and the Gallaghers in the VIP queue. By the early noughties it didn’t matter HOW you made it but IF you made it. Once you were part of the set you were a celebrity and your future income was guaranteed. Fast forward a decade and one of the perks of being a celebrity is that you have blue tick status on Twitter and Instagram, something that secures a high volume of followers and therefore a significant reach. You are (as cringeworthy as the term is) a genuine influencer and here to stay.
When I look at some of the people I typically follow on social media many are inevitably sports people who, owing to my age and the passing of time, have become ex-sports people. They’ve enjoyed fine careers by excelling at their particular discipline and have called time, ready to start a new chapter. Here, their fame offers up opportunities, more often than not in the media (I can think of a host of examples). They didn’t have to go through a university degree to achieve this or a selective sequence of job interviews - their agent just put them forward and they got a couple of opportunities to write articles, offer punditry or some guest commentary and that was it, they were in. Sometimes this is down to being talented, more often than not talent doesn’t come into it. They essentially have a high paid media job for life. They’ve made it. No longer are they a sportsperson. They are a celebrity: you’ll see them on tv, online, in print - their name is a brand and as we know, brand names can be rubber stamped upon almost anything in the interests of commercial gain. Now, there is one proviso: you can have all the benefits of a career for life in the media – the salary, the expenses, the fortunate, the fame, the commercial opportunities, the freebies, the lot – but you MUST tow the party line. That means NOTHING controversial, NOTHING off message and NOTHING that blocks the advance of the woke narrative.
Here, it is worth pausing to consider the tactics of the left since the early nineties when, with the dialogue having been established between east and west (Gorbachev and Reagan) and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the economic argument for socialism and communism was well and truly defeated. Capitalism, for all its fault, had dragged up living standards for millions and prosperity had been created by making more people rich instead of more people poor. Having accepted defeat, those on the left turned their attentions to pushing through all the elements associated with the Marxist cause via the ostensible banner of “social justice.” Here, their chances were far greater, after all, the waves of change in the sixties had shown that when it came to things such as race equality and feminism, there was far greater appetite on the side of the big institutions in society to engage than with economics. Gradually then, the “woke agenda” began to find its way into the fabric of society – here in the UK it began with the BBC, where the curation of news and programming meant the phasing out of anything non-progressive and a new wave of “diverse” presenters and faces. The change in government also facilitated this – John Major was in complete favour of an authoritarian stance on government (let us cast our minds back that he refused to offer the British people a vote on the Maastricht Treaty and systematically distanced his government from the libertarian approach of his celebrated predecessor). By the time that Blair stormed to victory, the stage was set for more powers to be given to the European Union and for more laws to enter be passed, helping to fuel the notion that we are all too stupid to govern ourselves – we need lots of law, multiple layers of bureaucracy and far more of a gap between our vote and the end result. All of this contributed to the perfect framework for a torrent of progressive “justice” to flood into the governance of our society.
In the (nearly) three decades since Thatcher left office, the Labour Party cleverly re-positioned itself as a “left of centre” party in order to regain economic credibility (and therefore power). The Conservative Party’s response to this was to try and win back the centre ground and by doing so stopped being conservative (thanks Cameron). Now the Labour Party has gone further back to its roots and yet the Conservative Party cannot bring itself to correctly re-position itself – you can blame May and Brandon Lewis with the way they have handled Brexit. As a result, a perfect vacuum has been created in order for the social justice movement to continue to flood through our institutions and drive the narrative accordingly. When Sky News, the BBC and Channel Four lead with these ridiculous stories about “cliff edge no deal Brexit scenarios,” transgender rights, the need to reduce the voting age, white privilege, how we need to give an amnesty to all illegal immigrants or anything else (the list is endless), you will IMMEDIATELY see an endless list of celebrities endorsing the case for these things. After all, most live in either central London in penthouse suites or luxury townhouses or alternatively in gated country pads and are therefore immune to the impact of these things – but more importantly it’s essentially an unwritten part of their contract: be woke and continue to signal your virtues and your career will flourish. You’ve got enough protection on your income to avoid any issues so fill your boots.
And so we naturally see Twitter alliances being created with these people and politicians who continually spout bollocks about prejudice where none exists (David Lammy and Jess Phillips spring to mind), broadcasters fueled by Cultural Marxism (James O’Brien and Jon Snow spring to mind) and entertainers who no longer entertain but lecture (David Schneider and Frankie Boyle spring to mind). All of a sudden, the ex-rugby player who you follow because you want some insight on the game is frenetically retweeting all of these people and their timeline has turned into a political broadcast by the Authoritarian Bed Wetting Party. Of course, it’s easy to unfollow if you have some awareness of how this narrative is fueled, but for many who are completely politically naive, it would be easy to forgive them for immediately ordering a subscription to the Economist and New Statesman before wrapping themselves up in Palestinian lanyards and rainbow flags.
The damage has long since been wreaked. It would be almost impossible to turn back the clocks on the celebrity culture. Indeed, when it comes to people entering the media right now, politics has almost become a central benchmark of qualification, with diversity second and talent a mere “nice-to-have” that languishes in the distant background. Look at the “comedians” on the BBC now: we have Dara O’Brien who in mocking the Brexit referendum tells us gleefully that independence isn’t important to the Irish like it is for the English (WTF was the War of Independence for then Mr Potato Head?), Nish Kumar who is desperate for all white people to be racist and pretty much the entire panel on the Last Leg who I get the impression would essentially like to go one step further and control what people actually think.
Their job is not to be funny (after you can’t be funny if so many topics are now off-limits in order to avoid offence) but to spread the message of social justice via “comedy” – i.e. by ridiculing anyone who might stand in the way of left wing, new-age liberalism. If you turn on any of the “entertainment programs” on these channels, the goal of the programmers is to ensure that the viewer is compelled to agree with the content and come to the conclusion that we need big government to control how we think, what we say and what we do to a microcosmic level of detail.
So in hindsight, Thatcher and Reagan’s defeat of socialism was a mere red herring. Had the war not been lost, the millennial generation might have been able to see its tangible failure for themselves and drawn a logical conclusion as to its merits. Instead, Marxyism has crept in through the backdoor and what’s more, the red army of celebrities are doing everything in their power to force this home. Perhaps if some of them stopped to think of the cost of their ego-driven agendas, we might have a chance of reverting the balance.